The wait is finally over and Doctor Who will never been the same again and not just because The Doctor has changed gender. The anticipation for a new Doctor series is always heightened when a new Doctor is about to take centre stage but when we also hav a new show runner in Chris Chibnall who takes over from Steven Moffat there is even more nervous excitement for the start of a new series. Honestly I do have some concerns going into this series but not about the fact that The Doctor is now a woman or that she is being played by Jodie Whittaker. But now Series 11 Episode One is here, and as The Woman Who Fell to Earth has finally been shown…it is time to “Get a shift on”!
*Quick note that this is a spoiler free review so I will be refraining from going into too much detail about the story other then what has been shown in trailers.*
The first thing that I immediately felt from the opening ten minutes alone was a completely different tone from previous series, which is really just what I wanted to feel with a new show runner at the helm though it was a rather brave way to open the first episode for a new Doctor by not actually starting off with …The Doctor. Instead we are introduced to the new and soon to be companions. By making the audience wait for the entrance of the Doctor gave it far more weight than simply going straight to seeing what happened after she had fallen from the TARDIS. It also did a second brand new thing by not actually having any title sequence, instead the audience is put right into the story and not taken out of it until the end credits to the episode. It was different but ultimately I found that it actually worked really well, in just fifteen minutes of this episode it had already done something refreshing and new and very unlike any previous series since the show was rebooted back in 2005.
I did enjoy getting to see the new companions in their own day to day lives and the subtle set up for just how much their eyes will be opened to the whole universe and world of The Doctor. Out of the three I did like the character of Ryan Sinclair the most, played by Tosin Cole, he is the first face we see and more time is spent with him compared to the others which for me works really well. Ryan is 19 and suffers from Dyspraxia which affects his physical coordination, as seen by him still trying to learn to ride a bike at 19 which leads to the moment that changes everything for everyone. My main fear with this season was and still remains after this episode that three companions is a little too much for a new Doctor to stand out properly but each will being their own unique personality to the mix I am sure. Ryan is dealing with a lot when the Doctor finds him, Yasmin played by Mandip Gill is a school friend of Ryan and as a probationary Police Officer is wanting to have more responsibility and bigger challenges in life. Graham played by Bradley Walsh is the only problem I can see with Graham being cancer survivor and currently in remission and also step dad to Ryan, is played very sombre by Walsh and is someone who believes his time has already been and gone and is feeling guilty about being a survivor. Each has something that the Doctor can help them work on to find their true courage but it just feels like overkill having so many people around her as she just starts off, I felt the same way about Matt Smith’s Doctor when Rory joined him and Amy back in the day.
The story itself was quite by the numbers in terms of how the first episode for a new Doctor goes with the standard Doctor not remembering everything and still needing time to allow the regeneration to complete. It did feel strange to have some of the characters still dismissing aliens as not real considering how many times the Earth has been attacked by Daleks and Cybermen for example but the Doctor wins them over as she always does. It was fun to get a glimpse into the world of new monsters that Chris Chibnall has confirmed he is bringing to this series and that the old faithful will not be making an appearance this season. New is good and for a new show runner it is not a bad idea to make your mark by bringing something new to the world of Doctor Who but what I really appreciated was the little touches that felt so familiar but will come to that a bit later. The pacing was solid and the story flowed nicely from start to finish which is key in an opening episode.
As for Jodie Whittaker’s take on the Doctor, well it is too early to say just yet but from what was shown in this episode there is certainly tremendous potential to revitalise the character as each new Doctor should. After Capaldi’s “older Doctor”, the 13th Doctor is full of positive energy and finds everything interesting but Jodie does a very clever thing in that the old Doctor’s attitude to protecting humanity and life itself still shines through at key moments of the story and still above all else uses brains over brawn. I really liked Jodie as the Doctor and she literally hit the ground running if you pardon the pun considering the episode title. If you watch the episode again make sure you listen very closely to the music as the Doctor first takes charge it will give you goosebumps. I have zero trouble seeing Jodie running with this role for years to come and will be intriguing to see how her Doctor develops as the episodes go on. The elephant in the room of the Doctor now being a woman was sensibly only commented on twice, which made it less of a big deal for the audience as well as the Doctor.
There is a fresh feel to this series already and it came across as though it is bring treated more like a BBC Drama series then that of a kids show, something that Steven Moffat failed to do in his final series for Capaldi. The special effects are very much improved with real effort in the CGI work showing that the BBC have clearly provided a bigger budget for this new series for Chris Chibnall which is a relief because I had a real fear that the BBC were about to give up on this series as it has done in the past. Now this could all be a massive last gasp effort to get the show popular again with it suffering from low ratings in recent years and the move to a Sunday evening sounded strange but honestly it is a genius move that will make this a must see programme for fans which will be most effective as the lead in to the Strictly results show.
The Woman who fell to Earth was a brilliant start to the new series and the reaction to it across social media including reviews have all been highly positive with much praise for Jodie and the new cast which I fully agree they deserve along with the writing and new tone set by Chris Chibnall. The next episode ‘The Ghost Monument’ looks to be the standard “take the humans into space” for an adventure type episode and then I do hope we get to see them actually travel in time for the third episode. But everything is looking good and I have far more confidence looking forward than I had before watching this episode.
We have a new Doctor, we have a new show runner and we have a new series and so far it is all working fantastically and I do hope this quality is maintained going forward. As a lifelong Whovian who has seen every Doctor and series, this is the first time since the rebooted series in 2005 that I am excited to see what happens next with the Doctor with the promise of new aliens, monsters, planets and events in time to look at just opening my eyes to just how much potential is there for the show.
As always following spending time with the Doctor, I am left feeling very optimistic about the journey ahead for Jodie’s era of Doctor Who.